Tuesday, June 14, 2011 , 5:30 - 8:30 p.m.,
Bison Visitor Center , 1800 S. County Road 31, Loveland, CO
Steve Johnson, Commissioner
The June 14, 2011, meeting of the Parks Advisory Board was called to order by Chair Linda Knowlton at 5:45 p.m. The minutes of the May 10, 2011, meeting were approved.
Special guests, Sam Waldo, and Carmen and Walt Meyer were recognized for providing delicious, home-cooked meals for the Board and the Department for the past 5 and 20 years, respectively. Board members and staff expressed their appreciation to the trio.
REPORTS–if any - None
PUBLIC COMMENT: Items not on the agenda - None
§ Natural Resource Events for June: See website http://www.larimer.org/naturalresources.
Big Thompson Public Access – Charlie Johnson, Sr. Land Agent
§ Area 20 – Glen Haven Road – Large flat area
Ruthie Gray: Their property is adjacent to Area 12b, and they are interested in purchasing it.
Brendan Chenowith, representing the Opal Land and Cattle Company: They own the property adjacent to Area 20 – a 1400 acre ranch. He has a lot of concerns about it: There is no parking access – only a 40 ft. ROW along the road, which is not sufficient for public parking. This is a very short piece of property, and he finds it a tough place to have a good fishing experience. He’s concerned about control issues with the public. They find it frustrating dealing with the public when there is no good enforcement. The Maitlands have grazed this parcel since the turn of the previous century. His ranch now grazes it; they have maintained it, while the County has done nothing much. The ranch is very active in promoting public access to their lands. He has years of experience as an outdoor guide, and the ranch allows fishing access on its property. But they are concerned about uncontrolled public access which often results in trespass onto their land.
Walt Graul, representing Friends of Big Thompson River: They recommend retaining both parcels for fishing access. 12b is a nice stretch, which is near the County park. It would be nice to have it shared with a private fishing club and the public. Loveland Fishing Club has these two as their main priorities. It is important to keep Area 20 for fishing access – there is room to park across the road. There’s not much public fishing access on the north fork. This is one of only two that he is aware of.
Bob Towry: He supports the Board in moving forward on disposition of these properties. He supports retaining public access. These are super fishing sites. He encourages retention by the County for public benefit.
Brendan Chenowith: The parking across from Area 20 is owned by his ranch. It is not available for public use. The parking is a safety hazard; and no one is there to manage it. There is, in fact, a lot of public access from this location all the way to Glen Haven. The fishing is great on the private stretch. But in the public stretch it is not as good, because all the fish get pulled out. He agrees that the quality of fishing on the ranch land is great – that’s because they manage it well. But when lots of fish are caught and killed, the quality goes down hill.
For Area 12b, tonight begins the 60 day public comment period. Staff recommends retaining most of it for public access. This is one of the parcels recommended by the Loveland Fishing Club for retention. It is just downstream from the Hayden Subdivision. Ownership does not go to the center of the river; the riverbed is owned by the United States, as far as Charlie can determine.
Tonight also begins the 60 day public comment period for Area 20. Staff recommends retaining the majority of it, as also requested by the Loveland Fishing Club.
Board and staff comment:
Barry Lewis: What does ‘majority’ mean?
Linda Knowlton: Which portions are you recommending that the County keep?
Charlie Johnson: Which portions would be retained has not been determined yet, but he recommends keeping most or all of it. Brendan is correct about the parking. Charlie thinks this is a dangerous curve to put parking on. But people can park farther upstream about ¼ mile, and walk back.
Linda Knowlton: What about the grazing? What about the future of grazing?
Charlie Johnson: This property is not fenced. If you don’t want cattle grazing, you must fence them out. If we retain it and don’t want grazing on it, we would have to fence it; or we could consider leasing it to Opal Land and Cattle for grazing.
Frank Cada: Is there also County land above the Hayden properties? [Yes.] Is there the potential for a large public recreation area if all the public land were combined? It’s good to keep the public land tied together.
Tom Miller: This property is a gift. We’ll never be gifted again with 3 acres of riverfront property on the north fork. Population will continue to grow. The people own it. To sell it out from under the public, knowing the future demand that will exist, is unthinkable. This property is priceless. In his mind, it is not for sale. For God’s sake, keep hold of it.
Barry Lewis: How do we manage grazing and people using the same property? He is concerned about interaction between cattle and people.
Frank Cada and Tom Miller: Cattle are not a problem – it’s done all the time.
Linda Knowlton: We have grazing on many of our open spaces.
Frank Gillespie: Asked questions about the location of the parking upstream. He was assured that the parking allows safe access.
Big Thompson Public Access – Charlie Johnson, Sr. Land Agent; See attached staff recommendations.
§ Area 5 – Narrows
§ Area 7 – Indian Village
§ Area 23 – Glen Haven - Bartel Parcel
Area 7 – Indian Village
Charlie read the recommendation for Area 7 (see attached). The camper has been moved from the yellow parcel since the last meeting.
Public comment on Area 7 : None
Board and staff discussion:
Russell Fruits: If we sell off the yellow piece, is there still room for public access?
Charlie Johnson: Yes, along the remaining County parcel. However, the entire riverbank along this stretch has giant boulders, which make it challenging to access the river.
Frank Cada: The only option to access the river is across the yellow parcel? [No. That parcel has boulders also.] That piece is surrounded by public land. Why would we sell land that’s already adjacent to public land? We’re just cutting it off.
Tom Miller: Who’s going to pay for the fence? We’re a poor organization – we should not spend any excess quarters for a fence.
Charlie Johnson: It’s 100 ft. of fence; the cost will be less than $5,000.
Frank Gillespie: Asked questions about ownership, which were addressed.
Area 23 - Bartels
Charlie has agreed on a price with Mr. Bartels; the County will not be retaining public access. See recommendation, attached.
There was no public comment or Board discussion.
Area 5 - Narrows
Charlie reviewed the staff recommendation (see attached.) All three of these parcels would be sold as non-buildable, with deed restrictions.
Steve Johnson: What is the priority of previous vs. adjacent owners?
Charlie: He and Gary decided the fair thing to do is to offer it to both groups simultaneously.
Linda Knowlton: The triangular piece will be offered first, so the previous owner has the opportunity to purchase it, and then, if successful, to bid on the other parcels. This is not a fishing access problem – we will retain public access.
Unidentified public: How will owners get access to their property if the parcels are split ownership? [The buyer of each parcel will have the same historic access via the road indicated in blue, across the adjoining properties.] How will the public access the public access? [By walking across or through the river.]
Walt Graul, representing Friends of the Big Thompson: They appreciate seeing the detailed recommendation, and support retaining fishing access.
Bob Towry: He supports the staff recommendation.
Mr. Hanson: The Hansons live next to the Cornelius property. They want to buy it all. They don’t want more traffic through their lands. They do not have deep enough pockets if it is sold as buildable land.
Adam Buna: Neighbor next to Narrows Park. The only real issue is that people will park on his side, walk across to the other side, take short cuts, and go where they want. He owns to the middle of the river on his section; how will the County prevent people from fishing on his half of the river? He doesn’t believe that signage will be effective, and the department can’t park a ranger there all the time. He thinks he’ll get a lot of unwanted activity on his side. It doesn’t benefit him to buy the other side, if there is a 30 ft wide strip of public access in between – he’ll have the same aggravations. He prefers that the County does not deed restrict the properties to include public access.
Mrs. Hanson: The parcels for sale have always been separate properties. Before the flood, the Narrows park and McCargo property were one parcel. These should be sold the way they have always been, as separate parcels. What about the impact on the tax rolls? Who is an adjoining owner besides them?
Tom Miller: We have a highly used Big Thompson park (Glade) where ownership goes to the center of the river. The adjoining property owner had the same concerns. There haven’t been any problems. People will respect private property. He sympathizes with Mr. Buna, but over 10 years has not observed any problems at Glade. He thinks the proposal is the best way to meet everyone’s needs.
Frank Cada: He agrees with the staff recommendation. What’s the fairest way to allow the Hansons to get it all? Would a closed bid or open market auction be fairer?
Barry Lewis: What are the reasons that the sealed bid process would be better?
Tom Miller: In an open bid process, it can get difficult. Sealed bids will help keep all the neighbors friendly.
Linda Knowlton: Noted that there will be other adjacent owners as well who may choose to bid.
Barry Lewis: He’s not sure what the right strategy would be if someone wants all 3 parcels, in a sealed bid situation.
Charlie: We’ve done a sealed bid before, and realized slightly more profit. If no one bids, then it will be opened to the public by sealed bid process. If minimum bids are not met, the parcels could remain County property. Bidders will know the minimum bid amount. There was a 2003 report that was updated and lists values which include fishing rights. But these are not appraised values – just estimates.
Mr. and Mrs. Hanson: They prefer an open auction – with a sealed bid process, there’s no way for them to know what to bid. An auction is the only fair way.
Election of officers
Barry Lewis nominated Russell Fruits as Chair. Frank Cada seconded the nomination. Barry commented on what a great job Russ did on the Carter Lake Marina subcommittee. The nomination was approved.
Frank Cada nominated Barry Lewis as Vice-Chair. Russ Fruits seconded the nomination. The nomination was approved.
STANDING AGENDA ITEMS:
Park District updates and Parks Master Plan Implementation Progress report – Dan Rieves, Visitor Services Manager
§ Memorial Day weekend, we were full on camping; but boating was down due to weather and lower temperatures. The water is very cold.
§ Ranger Excellence School went off without a hitch, except for cold, rainy weather. When the boats were launched, it was 40 degrees and raining, but nobody complained. Only the helicopter class had to be cancelled due to heavy rain.
§ Dan distributed a letter praising two seasonal rangers at Carter Lake for their response to a boating accident. These two employees had only been on the job about a month, but performed very professionally, thanks to their training.
§ Chris and her staff (Sr. Ranger Will Talbott) have proposed a creative solution for the Carter Lake Swim Beach plan, to avoid moving the road.
§ The ranger program will be upgrading to mobile communication technology over time
§ ADA requirements for mobility devices – there was an open house last week, and only one person showed up.
§ Carter Lake is at maximum elevation. This is great, although there is no swim beach, and parking is somewhat limited.
§ Colorado Climbing Coalition interested in making improvements to the climbing areas off Fawn Hollow Trail at Carter Lake.
§ The ranger crew this year is one of the strongest in a long time. Across the board, we have outstanding folks.
§ Big Thompson: Watching water levels. No restrictions on recreational use yet.
§ Estes campgrounds: Lots of bears at Hermit Park, and East Portal.
§ East Portal: Campsites closed due to springs are drying up and being reopened.
§ Mary’s Lake: Building bridges with neighbors by removing sites right along the fence line. Getting new fire grates, which will reduce fire risks.
§ The new shower building at Mary’s Lake is working well. EVRPD will be upgrading the other 3 shower houses in the autumn.
§ Mary’s Lake store manager, Richard Benson, has a retail background. He is having trouble keeping it stocked, due to improved sales. Firewood – 1500 bundles sold over Memorial Day weekend.
§ Field Manager online camping and point of sale system: Working pretty well, with a few glitches.
§ Road & Bridge re-graded Hermit Park main road about 10 days ago. Will be redone in the fall.
§ New marketing strategies: Featuring Hermit Park and Horsetooth group areas in the Colorado Wedding magazine.
Commissioner Tom Donnelly will be meeting the public
tomorrow in Estes Park, along with Gary and Chris.
DIRECTOR’S REPORT - Gary Buffington
Performance Measures for 2012 Budget – Gary reviewed the following performance measures for the Parks program:
1. Percentage of campsites occupied on weekends, Memorial Day through Labor Day.
2. Percentage of total operating expenditures (direct and indirect) covered by user fee revenue.
3. Annual expenditures for capital improvements as a percentage of total Parks Fund expenditures. We’ve spent $6 million over the past 3 years. More than 80% of the Priority 1 projects have been completed. The public likes things that are new. Now we’re offering a lot of new facilities – showers, full-hook-up campsites, new swim beaches and group pavilions.
4. Percentage of total annual department expenditures covered by Lottery funds. Lottery funding will come under scrutiny again next year, possibly with proposals for it to be transferred to education. It’s important to know how much of our operating costs are subsidized by Lottery. Our goal is zero Lottery subsidy, but in fact we’ve needed between $100,000 and $200,000 per year (although we used no Lottery for operational subsidies last year.)
Board and staff comment:
Frank Cada: Is there any way to compare our efficiency to State Parks, etc.?
Gary: We watch what State Parks does carefully. This year is the first time that State Parks’ annual permit prices are higher than ours. They also doubled the price of a senior pass. Rick Cables was just hired as Director of the new Parks & Wildlife Division. He comes from a Federal background. We’re talking to them about possibly managing Lory State Park, if that would prove beneficial to both departments.
Barry Lewis: While hiking at Horsetooth Mountain Open Space, he noticed the designated campsites.
Gary: We’ve always had back country camping at Horsetooth Mountain, but just added 3 designated campsites, which are not yet on the reservation system. The cost to camp in a designated site is $15 a night.
Gary recognized Tom Miller, who has completed his term on the Board, for his 10 years of service to this department. Tom’s parting words to the Board were, “Just remember, folks, it’s for the public – in perpetuity!”
Meeting was adjourned at 7:45 pm.
Linda Knowlton, Chair
Next regular meeting: July 12, 2011, in the Boyd Lake Room at the Larimer County Courthouse Office Building, 200 W. Oak Street, Fort Collins, CO.
Public can view agenda and minutes at www.larimer.org/parks
PREPARED FOR PARKS ADVISORY BOARD – 6-14-2011
Staff Recommendations - Big Thompson Flood Parcel Project
Area 7 - Indian Village – County does not own river
Area 5 – Narrows – Surveying is in process and nothing will be transferred until all surveying is complete.
Area 12b – Drake – South of the bridge over the North Fork of the Big Thompson River
Begin 60 day comment period
Area 20 – Glen Haven Road – Large flat area
Begin 60 day comment period
Area 23 - Glen Haven - Bartel Parcel
Staff recommends that we enter into a contract for the sale of the Bartels parcel with Richard Bartel without the retention of public access to the property or the river. The sale price for the .7 acres is $10,700. The sale will be deed restricted, excluding the right to build any permanent structures, commercial use, overnight camping, and no storage of vehicles or equipment.